I've also stripped out some of the old (non-Flickr) photo albums as they're getting on quite a bit now.
'The Children of Húrin' sees me return to one of my favourite authors, JRR Tolkien, whom I haven't read since I last visited the Maldives on holiday (2004). Like 'The Silmarillion', this is another of the post-humous tales that Tolkien's son Christopher has pieced together. The story is set in the First Age of Middle Earth, well before the events of 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings'. It's an expansion of a story within 'The Silmarillion', a tale of men within the story of the Elven war of the Silmarils.
Just like Ronseal, it does what it says on the tin; the story tells of the human hero Húrin, and his children, especially his son Túrin. It has fantastic imagery (Túrin predates Moorcock's Elric, but has a black sword and a similar feel of doom), dragons, battles and an all powerful dark lord. The tale is very black and bleak, and reads like a saga. Stylistically, it's very similar to 'the Silmarillion' in form rather than 'The Lord of the Rings'.
This was a welcome return to Middle Earth for me, and I think that I shall read some more there soon. I'd love to find an RPG engine that does the setting justice so I could play some games there; I may find one in October when Graham Spearing runs a First Age game with Heroquest based around these events.
I came very late to MR James, especially considering that I read Lovecraft and Poe back in my early teens. Somehow I missed one of the best English writers of ghost stories, but it's made finding James' work so much more enjoyable now. I became aware of his work from a review in a UK roleplaying magazine called 'The Black Seal', which is dedicated to modern-day Lovecraftian material for the Call of Cthulhu RPG. The review was of the BBC TV adaptation of 'Whistle and I'll come for you my Lad', and peaked my interest.
I bought the DVD (which the BFI had issued as part of its classic British Television series) and both Jill and I enjoyed it. This last Christmas, as we were waiting for the baby to arrive, I was fortunate enough to see another more modern adaptation on BBC 4, 'Number 13'. Both stories were extremely good at building a feeling of menace without the gore that you usually see in modern horror material. This made me decide that I had to read more of James' work, so I went into Wetherby and ordered the collection for the princely sum of £1.99! An absolute bargain.
All the stories are well written – although stylistically they are better if you read them out loud in your head as if you were telling them to an audience – and the plots of most are good at building tension and giving a subtle sense of horror. I think I may well recycle one or two into an RPG scenario in the future. The only issue I have with the collection is that the stories are best read (or should that be devoured?) in a single sitting, so it can take a while to work through the book if you're reading it late at night around a small child.
Since I read this, I've also been fortunate enough to watch 'A Warning to the Curious', another BBC adaptation of an MR James story. I whole-heartedly recommend that as well!
We've been trying to buy a high chair today for Nathan, and had all sorts of fun. It's been driven by the fact that he doesn't yet sleep through the night (he did for a bit, but now the milk isn't enough for him), and he's reached a size and an age that initial weaning can begin. Anyway, Jill did a look at all the options on the internet and using her Which? subscription, and we settled on a Tripp Trapp chair, as shown above. We knew that Mothercare stocked it, so Jill phoned Harrogate, Leeds and York to see if they had it in in the colour we wanted, and it turns out on Leeds had stock. So we went on an expedition just before lunch to go and buy it.
On arriving at the Leeds Mothercare store, the assistant went out to the back to get the high chair, then returned to tell us that they only had the cherry colour in stock. Jill explained that she had called earlier and they'd said they have it in,, but really only got a mumbled half apology. Anyway, disappointed and annoyed, we went and collected the other things we needed and headed to the cash till. At the till we were asked did we get everything we needed, so Jill told the assistant (a different one) that no, we hadn't. The assistant looked surprised and said she was certain that the chairs were in stock. A few minutes later she came back with one, and we walked out happily having parted with some of Nathan's vouchers from the Christening. (Thanks all!).
Fast forward to getting home. I opened up the box for the Tripp Trapp to discover that it was a Walnut colour, not 'natural' as we had asked for. 'Right', we thought, 'let's not waste time' and we arranged to drop it off back at the Harrogate store (far closer and easier to get to) and get a refund. We decided to use the internet to mail order it again rather than go back into Leeds. Jill first tried Blooming Marvellous, a site she uses regularly, but no luck there. Another site she tried needed her to phone them to order it, and when she did she was cut off by the store most of the way through sorting out the order. It was starting to look like it wasn't to be, until Jill remembered another store on the net which sold it. The order is placed, and hopefully it'll be here this coming week. Now all that's left is to start preparing the food for the little tyke!
Currently feeling: Tired (bad night's sleep)
Currently listening to: Nothing, as I'm hiding up in the Baby's Room as he sleeps.
Currently reading: 'Thud' by Terry Pratchett (just finished 'Karavans' by Jennifer Roberson)
The pictures from Nathan's Christening are on my Flickr page, or you can link through the photo-album page.
I've tried a new theme here just for an experiment! No glitches so far!
This is one of the new pictures that I'm really happy with. The rest are on Flickr (click through the image to find them) or you can look at the thumbnails on the relevant photo-album page.
It's fair to say that we've had an excellent weekend this Bank Holiday. The Christening went really well yesterday and we caught up with a large number of old and new friends. The service was lovely and Nathan was deploying all his charms. If he develops any of the abilities of his godfather Phill then he'll be a real heart-breaker in the future. Afterwards, The Bingley Arms did us proud with the meal and everyone seemed to have a great time.
However, I've got to confess that I'm looking forward to tomorrow and work for a chance to relax a little, assuming that work remains calmed down. Sleep has been at somewhat of a premium as Nathan's new schedule has been disrupted by everything that has gone on. Hopefully everything will return to what was normality at the end of last week.
I've only just got the photos from the Flower Show last weekend uploaded, and will add some from the Christening later on.
Currently feeling: Tired and happy.
Currently listening to: Nothing - enjoying the silence.
Currently reading: 'Collected Ghost Stories' by M R James
The good thing is that we've had 4 nights now in the 16 weeks since Nathan was born where he has slept through, and 3 of them have been in the last 5 days. Jill picked up copies of 'The Baby Whisperer' and has made some small changes to Nathan's schedule, which has been giving us some much needed sleep! Hopefully this will carry on and then I'll finally be able to get back onto the course I'm doing with work and the writing of Power Projection: Reinforcements.
Sunday brings Nathan's Christening, which has grown somewhat in proportion since we originally planned it. However, it should be a great do (after the church we're going to an excellent local pub, The Bingley Arms) and I'm really looking forward to catching up with some friends that I've not seen for a while. And we've the Monday to recover! I just hope that the weather holds off.
I've got some really nice photos of Nathan and Jill from the Harrogate Flower show last week. I'll try and get them uploaded over the weekend if I get a moment. I'm absolutely loving the FZ-50. It's a great camera and has re-enthused me about photography. I guess that having a cute son to take pictures of helps as well
Currently feeling: Ready for a good relaxing weekend.
Currently listening to: 'Face in the Sun' from Simple Minds' album 'Cry'
Currently reading: 'Collected Ghost Stories' by M R James